Don't look past Serena - Croft

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: January 10 2013, 8:13 GMT

Former British number one Annabel Croft can only see one winner of the Australian Open women's title - Serena Williams.

Serena Williams: Firm favourite for the Australian Open
Serena Williams: Firm favourite for the Australian Open

The American has won five times in the past 10 years at Melbourne Park and dominated the second half of last season, winning Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open as she finished the year with a spectacular 58-4 win-loss record.

Having picked up in 2013 where she left off by winning the recent Brisbane International, Williams is the one to beat in Melbourne says Croft, who will be acting as a TV pundit for Eurosport during the tournament.

"She's been unplayable recently," Croft told sportinglife.com.

"It's really difficult to look beyond her because of the way she has dominated, pretty much since she lost in the first round of the French Open (in May to Virginie Razzano).

"Her tennis has got better and better and better, her fitness is better - she's trimmer - and her service stands alone in the women's game.

"Her new coach/relationship with Patrick Mouratoglou is floruishing and she seems extremely happy in every department right now.

"If she's playing the same as she did last season and how she's started this year, it's going to be very tough to beat her."

When asked if anyone else stands any chance, Croft manages to produce just three names - Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska.

Azarenka is the second favourite with the bookmakers but holds a dismal 11-1 record against Williams.

Croft added: "She did make headway against Serena in the US Open final - she served for the match remember.

"She's a determined character but quite a mechanical player.

"There's not a lot of feel in her game but she has unbelieveable speed. Her serve can go astray but she's very determined."

There's a theory that Williams could be vulnerable early on - in addition to her shock loss at Roland Garros she lost in the fourth round in Melbourne 12 months ago to Ekaterina Makarova - when she often produces a patchy display and that Azarenka could capitalise.

However, Croft is not convinced.

"I think that's in the past and probably gone now," she said.

"When Serena played less and was a bit rusty you might catch her off guard.

"But she's come early to Australia and played Brisbane - she looks ready to take another Grand Slam title."

  • British Eurosport HD will show comprehensive LIVE coverage of the Australian Open from January 14-27. Live multi-court coverage is also available online and on mobile via Eurosport Player (eurosportplayer.co.uk).


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